Fire Mishap claims 10 lives, injures several patients at Vijayawada’s COVID Hospital

In an unfortunate turn of events, about 10 COVID-19 patients died after a fire broke out at a hotel-turned Covid Care Centre in Vijayawada early Sunday morning. According to the police, 31 Covid-19 patients were being treated by Ramesh Hospital which had lodged them at Swarna Palace Hotel in Governorpet. 
While 10 died due to asphyxiation and severe burns, 21 patients were rescued along with two hotel staff and six doctors. Following the rescue operation, patients were put on oxygen cylinders as some suffered with breathing issues. 
This incident has brought to light the negligence of private hospitals and also the lackadaisical attitude of the government in conducting regular checks over safety and security of COVID patients. While the hospital is responsible to look for fire safety measures, the government also has allowed several unverified hospitals to treat for COVID care without proper checks. 
Ramesh Hospital had taken the five-storey hotel on lease to lodge COVID-19 patients. The patients had taken a package of Rs 5,000 per day including three meals, hot beverages and snacks, until they were discharged, apart from treatment and other hospital charges.
It is believed that a short-circuit in an air-conditioning unit triggered the fire in the hotel reception area and quickly spread to the second floor. By the time fire and rescue officials reached the hotel, many patients on the upper floors were screaming from windows to be rescued. 
On the other hand, the state government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakhs to the kin of the deceased. He also ordered an in-depth probe into the accident and directed authorities to take steps to ensure better medical services to the victims of the accident. However, one needs to understand that an ex-gratia of such high sum will not solve the issue. 
Andhra Pradesh, especially, Vizag, has been at the centre of such unfortunate incidents over the past three months following various industrial accidents. However, the government has not shown any accountability in dealing with the managements responsible in any stringent way. 
In fact, in the LG Polymers case, the government had several pitfalls which seemed like it was trying to protect the top management of the company. Similarly, this case should not go unchecked or unnoticed and be forgotten. The government needs to wake up and realise that several lives are being lost due to incidents that can be averted. 
Well, whether it is the bad times or just our collective neglect for safety norms everywhere, one doesn’t still understand how India allows such accidents to go on and yet doesn’t learn from its mistakes! 

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